Maya Hawke’s ‘Moss’ is breathtaking

Actress releases sophomore album following major projects


Fair use from Genius

Modesty Manion

Maya Hawke has been all over the media lately. Over the summer, she starred in Stranger Things Season 4, as well as Netflix’s new movie, “Do Revenge.” As the daughter of actors Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, it’s no surprise she is so talented. Along with her recent acting fame, Hawke has just released her sophomore album, “Moss.”

Hawke released the first single from the album, “Sweet Tooth,” back in August, which gave new and returning listeners a taste of Hawke’s sound on the new album. With her distinctive vocals overlaying acoustic fingerpicking, xylophone and distorted Phoebe Bridgers-esque guitar, the tune is as sweet to listen to as the title implies. But the Phoebe Bridgers comparisons don’t stop there. The lyrical organization, instrumentation and mellow feel of many of the songs on “Moss” and those of Bridgers’ discography have a lot of overlap. However, Hawke’s gravelly voice and less electronic sound truly make her stand out as an artist.

Songs on “Moss” such as “Bloomed into Blue” and “Therese” are written in third person, emphasizing Hawke’s beautiful lyrical abilities. Her writing is a combination of metaphor, visualization and storytelling, which fits the tone of her music perfectly. Lines like “She thinks of him every so often, when she feels like a space cadet” and “She reminds me of memories, sleeping off the growing pains” toe the line between poetry with nonsense in the best way possible.

Many of Hawke’s songs are about intense feelings of love, including “Backup Plan,” “Hiatus,” “Sweet Tooth” and “South Elroy.” They touch on wanting to get back together with exes, codependency and genuine passion. For instance, the song “Driver” utilizes simile to convey how much Hawke misses her partner. The writing in “Backup Plan” reminded me a lot of “I Wanna Be Yours” by the Arctic Monkeys, where the singer wants to be various objects their partner owns. This is exemplified in the line, “Your pencils, your dress socks, your charger, your bike lock (…) I wanna be anything you’ve lost that you might be lookin’ for.”

The album was released at a very fitting time — the beginning of autumn, when soft vocals and loving lyricism matches the backdrop of falling leaves and crisp mornings. Compared to Hawke’s first album, “Moss” has a very similar contemporary indie folk style. However, it does have a more lively feel provided by the mix of instruments present throughout. After watching Stranger Things and knowing Hawke as Robin Buckely, listening to her music can feel more like listening to her character’s music. Hawke’s especially recognizable voice is the cause of this phenomenon, and also what makes her music so unique. 

My only critique of this album is that many of the songs sound relatively similar. Other than the upbeat single “Sweet Tooth,” the album consists of slow, melodic songs with Hawke’s delicate vocals. Don’t get me wrong, the collection is amazing. However, I found that there isn’t a lot of variety throughout.

Overall, although this album draws inspiration from various indie influences, “Moss” is truly a trailblazing work of art. Fans of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Maya Hawke’s previous work will enjoy “Moss.”

“Moss:” ★★★★☆